Bengaluru FC, on Thursday, announced that Englishman Neil McDonald had been appointed as the club’s Assistant Coach ahead of the 2022-23 season. The 57-year-old, formerly manager of Blackpool FC, has also served as Assistant Manager at Bolton Wanderers alongside Sam Allardyce, and was part of Phil Brown’s backroom staff at Hyderabad FC in 2019.
“When I was with Hyderabad FC, we’d always kept an eye on the big teams and Bengaluru FC was one of them, and they still continue to be. Even after I left, I’ve always followed the League closely and had said that I would love to come back. So when I got the call from Simon, who I know, I said yes straight away,” McDonald said, after completing the formalities on his deal.
A former player himself, McDonald turned out for several first division clubs in England, in an illustrious playing career that spanned 17 years. As a versatile midfielder, McDonald played 300 games across stints at Newcastle United and Everton FC, and was also part of the Bolton Wanderers squad that took on Liverpool FC in the FA Cup final of 1989.
“During my time working with young Indian players, what stood out is their ability to grasp instructions. I followed Bengaluru last season and you could see, over the course of the season, the players were picking things up and developing. I am hoping to be able to help improve them. I love the country, its culture and all the colour, and am genuinely looking forward to the games at the Kanteerava where the atmosphere is incredible,” McDonald added.
McDonald drew the curtains on his playing career after a short stint as a player-coach at Preston North End, retiring from playing in 1998. Having worked briefly as a first-team coach at Preston, McDonald went on to become part of the backroom staff at Bolton Wanderers, Crystal Palace and Carlisle United in the years to follow.
“Neil is an experienced coach at many different levels. He’s been a manager at different clubs in the English Football League, and has coached in the Premier League. He has the experience of working in India with Phil Brown and brings a lot of character, personality and knowledge of football to us. I’m really delighted to be able to get him to join us for next season and to work closely with him and build a successful relationship at the football club,” said Blues’ Head Coach, Simon Grayson.
McDonald, who is a graduate of the LMA’s Certificate in Applied Management at Warwick University, took over as manager of Swedish club Östersunds FK in 2007. Managing them for a crucial five-week period, McDonald led the Swedish side to safety from relegation. He has also been the Assistant at both Lincoln City and Leeds United, and had three stints alongside Phil Brown at Swindon Town, Hyderabad FC and most recently at Barrow AFC.
“Neil brings with him many years of invaluable experience at the highest level in English football, and of working with young players. We are certain that his presence will help many of our boys who are coming up the ranks and knocking on the first-team doors. On behalf of the club, I would like to welcome him to the BFC family, and wish him the best for the season ahead,” said Blues’ Director of Football, Darren Caldeira.